Artists drawn to harbour island

Last updated 14:28 15/01/2013
Somes Artist
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Island return: Newtown artist Basia Smolnicki, one of seven artists to spend time on Somes-Matiu Island recently.

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Wellingtonians should be drawn to Matiu-Somes Island during Wellington Anniversary Weekend, with a group of artists showing off prints and running art workshops.

In an initiative spearheaded last year by Solander Gallery, seven artists and a photographer spent a weekend on the harbour island getting a feel for the place and completing sketches.

That led to Matiu Somes: The Next Chapter, an exhibition of 32 prints that featured at the gallery last October.

Solander director Paulette Robinson said there was a big response to the show, which drew in not just followers of art but others with an interest in Matiu-Somes, such as conservationists, recreationalists and iwi.

Ms Robinson said she was struck by the number of people who commented they were very conscious of the island's history - "some of it a bit dark" - and its beauty, but had never visited.

"The words 'hidden gem' were used a lot.

"So many people said they've driven past it nearly every day all their lives, but they've never gone over there."

Ms Robinson says it was always Solander's intention to hold "phase two" of the exhibition and over the long weekend people have the chance to see a selection of 15 to 20 prints that featured in the original show.

Artists including Basia Smolnicki from Newtown, the only Wellingtonian amongst those who went on the weekend residency, will be on hand to talk about their work and will run a range of environmentally friendly printmaking workshops.

The workshops are being supported by Wellington City Council and Museum of Wellington City & Sea, with the latter also running complementary 45-minute tour of its waterfront museum exploring the historical, environmental and spiritual aspects of Matiu Somes - beginning 10am, 11am, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm - for people to see before or after they catch the harbour ferry.

The print exhibition is in the caretaker's cottage on the island and will be open to visitors from 10.30am until 3.30pm, Saturday and Sunday and Monday, 10.30am till 2pm.

Free printmaking workshop experiences catering for all ages will be running at two venues.

Basia Smolnicki and Vincent Drane will take visitors through a range of monotype printmaking techniques at The Barracks building on Saturday and Sunday 10.30am to 3.30pm, and Monday from 10.30 to 2pm.

Lynn Taylor will be running screenprinting workshops at the caretaker's cottage on Saturday and Sunday from 10.30am to 3.30pm. Print from one of Lynn's screens or make your own with simple paper stencils.

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Booking is not required for the workshops, but places will be limited on the ferry. See www.eastbywest.co.nz.

- The Wellingtonian

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